Our friends out at Screen Media Films sent over a copy of “The Life Zone” for us to review, and while this one actually has a lot working against it, it will still prove worth catching for one very impressive point.
“The Life Zone” introduces us to three young women, who all have something in common. They’ve all been kidnapped by a mysterious figure, and are now currently ensconced in an abandoned hospital. Despite the abandoned nature of the place, it has power, if somewhat shaky power, as well as what looks like obstetric equipment. This doesn’t bode well at all, and when the ladies find out just what else they have in common–and what they’ll have to do while they’re there–will leave them with a serious fight on their hands, and some unexpected trouble afoot.
I give “The Life Zone” due credit; it does a very nice job of setting up foreboding from the word go. It took me less than five minutes to feel a sense of dread for what was going on, but sadly, as soon as the first actress opens her mouth, it’s shot. The acting on this one was not the greatest, frankly–when Robert Loggia is your bad guy you’re clearly not shooting for an Oscar–and the script itself was a bit ham-fisted and lacking in subtlety.
The movie, as a movie, was weak stuff to say the least. The dialogue was overblown, overwrought, and delivered without particular skill. Things got a little better as they went on, but still, it wasn’t great, and the movie will rapidly develop to the point where you can tell just what the message behind the whole affair is. They don’t need a lot of subtlety for this particular message, rest assured on that front.
However, I do have to give them credit; the last ten minutes or so are going to feature a twist so downright bizarre, so utterly unexpected that I’d be amazed if anyone saw it coming. They gave away virtually nothing that I could spot leading up to it, and frankly, they got me to underestimate them. Their performance up to that twist was profoundly weak and it managed to completely hide any trace that this might have been coming.
Extra features on this one are virtually non-existent. There will be trailers for “Below Zero” and “Inkubus” at the start, but they will be inaccessible from the DVD menu, something I’ve never particularly approved of. There’s nothing else to speak of here; no audio options, no subtitles, not even decent closed-captioning for the hearing impaired. Frankly, that never makes me happy; plenty of hearing impaired folks out there dig movies and when they can’t get those subtitles, they just miss out. I’m in favor of a more inclusive approach to filmmaking, and this isn’t it.
“The Life Zone” is a slow, tired affair that’s not very well put together overall and, on many levels, a failure as anything but a discussion point. This is not the one to watch if you’re looking for a popcorn muncher on Friday night. However, it’s likely going to be worth one go round just to get a look at that absolutely breathtaking twist, a twist that had virtually no foreshadowing and managed to do what hundreds before it couldn’t: surprise.